Orient-Express/Mount Nelson’s Nick Seewer takes early retirement

{ Posted on Aug 14 2013 by B-man }
Categories : Travel news

Orient-Express has announced the early retirement of Nick Seewer as regional MD of its operations in Africa.

Seewer has been with Orient-Express for over 20 years, first as GM of the Mount Nelson Hotel, then as regional managing director for Africa, negotiating the company’s successful acquisition of The Westcliff in Johannesburg and establishing the company’s three camps in Botswana as world leaders in safari operations.

Following his retirement, which is effective immediately, he will continue to lend his expertise to the company in an advisory role, as a consultant to the Orient-Express safari business.

“Nick has personally nurtured and crafted the Mount Nelson Hotel into the iconic hotel it is today,” commented Paul White, president and CEO of Orient-Express Hotels.

“I am sure his colleagues, as well as the thousands of guests who have enjoyed his hospitality and the hundreds of young people who have begun their careers under his tutelage, will join me in thanking Nick for his 20 years of dedicated service and the invaluable contribution he has made to the growth of our business. We look forward to our continued association in Botswana.”

The new regional MD for Africa is Sandro Fabris, previously GM of Reid’s Palace in Madeira, who assumes the role from today. Fabris has been with Orient-Express for 18 years, starting his career as resident manager at Hotel Cipriani in Venice and serving as GM of Quinta do Lago and Lapa Palace, both in Portugal.

Fabris is the son and grandson of world-class hoteliers and began his hospitality career as food and beverage manager of Ciga’s Excelsior in the Lido of Venice, and later moved to Florence to re-open Ciga’s refurbished Grand Hotel. A graduate of the Hotel Management School in Lausanne, Fabris was born in Italy and retains duel Italian and Swiss citizenship.

The new acting GM of Reid’s Palace is Ulisses Marreiros, who has been resident manager under Sandro Fabris for the last 18 months. Marreiros came to Madeira in July 2008, having previously been director of sales and marketing at the Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa on Portugal’s Algarve Coast. Prior to this he was part of the opening sales team for the One&Only Reethi Rah resort in the Maldives.

Marreiros began his career in hospitality at Hotel Quinta do Lago in the Algarve, which was an Orient-Express property at the time, with experience in banqueting, reservations and reception, working his way up to international marketing and sales manager.

Outgoing regional MD for Africa Nick Seewer is a Swiss national and spent his early years in India, studied in England, attended the Lausanne hotel school in Switzerland, and trained at top Swiss hotels before relocating to South Africa.

“I distinctly remember arriving at the hotel at six in the morning on 1 April 1989. Excited as I was to be running one of the country’s best known hotels, I approached my new role with trepidation as she was in need of a lot of care and attention”, says Seewer.

He recalls how what had once been the most immaculate hotel in Southern Africa had then become a little tired, and how he set about implementing changes to help her reclaim her timeless elegance and flawless reputation.

“My biggest and most rewarding challenge was to make the hotel more accessible to the local market. We managed to accomplish this through an extensive refurbishment and by introducing what has become our world famous Afternoon Tea buffet, restructuring our restaurants and their food concepts and opening the Planet Champagne and Cocktail Bar, which has become the city’s celebrity hotspot”, he noted last year.

He lists other highlights as playing host to some of the world’s most colourful characters, opening the Orient-Express Safari Camps in Botswana in 1992, and launching Mount Nelson Hotel’s sister property The Westcliff in Johannesburg in 1998.

His most memorable occasion yet: “The hotel closed for six months in 1993 to undergo repairs to damages incurred by an electrical fire, and when it reopened, the entire staff contingent lined up along Palm Avenue and gave me a surprise welcome when I arrived. It was such a touching gesture symbolic of the hotel’s warmth and hospitality – something which inspires many of our guests to remark that coming back to the hotel is like coming home”.

FAST FACTS

Ten things you didn’t know about Nick Seewer (from the Mount Nelson Hotel’s website):

Best Cape Town restaurant? Constantia Uitsig (and Cape Colony at Mount Nelson Hotel)

Best restaurant/s in the world? The Waterside in Bray and Per Se in New York

Favourite thing to do in Cape Town on a Sunday? As little as possible – possibly a braai

Best airline travelled? Singapore Airlines. South African Airlines is also excellent.

Favourite city in the world? Lausanne in Switzerland.

Your top five travel essentials? A good book; tooth brush; coloured suitcase markers; t-shirts, shorts and sandals

Favourite hotel in the world (apart from MNH)? The magical Cipriani Hotel in Venice.

Your most memorable holiday? An unbelievable visit to Cuba with my son

Your most precious possession/s? My children – and some wonderful memories

If you weren’t an hotelier, who/what would you be? A famous actor!

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